Rob Gronkowski sits out New England Patriots practice for Super Bowl XLVI
FOXSports.com senior NFL writer Alex Marvez was chosen as the pool reporter for New England's Super Bowl XLVI practices by the Pro Football Writers of America. Here is his report from Wednesday's session:
An almost-complete New England Patriots squad conducted a two-and-a-half hour Super Bowl XLVI practice in helmets and shells Wednesday at Indianapolis Colts team headquarters.
"We had our moments — some good ones and some things we’ve got to work on," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said afterward. “They’re trying. They’re working hard. We’ve got a ways to go, though.
“We’ve had a little bit of extra time to prepare so we hit all the areas. I thought we had good tempo and good timing. We’ll back down a little bit the next couple of days.”
Tight end Rob Gronkowski was the only player who didn't participate during Wednesday’s session. Gronkowski suffered a left ankle injury January 22 during New England's 23-20 AFC Championship game victory over Baltimore.
"He’s day to day," Belichick said. “He’s getting better but, we’ll just take it day-to-day.”
Tackle Sebastian Vollmer (foot/back) worked on a limited basis.
“He did a little bit today,” Belichick said. “We’ll see how he does tomorrow.”
Left tackle Matt Light, who battled an illness earlier in the week, completed a full practice.
To prepare for the crowd noise expected inside Lucas Oil Stadium during Sunday’s matchup against the New York Giants, the Patriots blasted loud music through much of practice inside the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
"We can make it loud enough so that [the players] can’t hear," said Belichick, whose team has not played inside a dome this season. “As long as they can’t hear, you have to do silent communications whether it’s on defense with hand signals or offense with tapping the center [for the snap] and all that.”
Among the selections played were songs from Jon Bon Jovi — a personal friend of Belichick’s who attended New England's second-round playoff win over Denver — and Super Bowl XLVI halftime performer Madonna. Belichick said he and Patriots Director of Football/Head Coach Administration Berj Najarian choose the songs but added with a smile, “I get veto power.”
Besides standard game preparation that included 11-on-11, 7-on-7, goal-line and two-minute drills, the Patriots spent a portion of Wednesday's session working on kickoffs and kickoff coverage. Belichick said kickoffs are usually practiced on Thursday but the team is a day ahead from having conducted a full-pads practice Monday in Indianapolis.
"Today is like Thursday for us during the season," Belichick said. “We do punt and punt return on Wednesday, which was Monday.”
Belichick said Thursday’s practice will “be a little shorter and really more review for everything like we did today – first, second, third down and red (zone) area and all the situations.”